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Confederate Congress 
J. G. Ramsay 

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I. Frontispiece 74 

II. The Confederate Congress — James G. Ramsay, M. D 75 

III. Opportunity 83 

IV. Zack Thompson, the Blacksmith — Lucy McGee Glenn 84 

V. Sketches 88 

VI. Caieers for Women — Dr. Claribel Cone 96 

VII. Editorials 112 

VIII. Among Ourselves 114 

IX. Alumna; and Others 122 

X. Marriages 125 

XI. Literary Notes 126 

XII. In Lighter Vein 127 

Entered at the Postoffice at Greensboro, N. C, as second-class mail matter. 

Rkece & Elam, Printers, Greensboro, N. C. 

Digitized by the Internet Archive 
in 2013 






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State Normal Magazine. 

VOL. IV. GREENSBORO, N. C, MAY, 1900. NO. 3 


MARY M. PETTY, ( Faculty). 


EMMA BERNARD, '00 Chief. ELEANOR WATSON, 00, Chief. 





The State Normal Magazine is published quarterly, from October to June, by a board 
of Editors elected from the Adelphian and Cornelian Literary Societies, under the direction of 
a Managing Editor chosen from the Faculty. 

All literary contributions may be sent to the Managing Editor. 

All business communications of any kind should be addressed to the business Manager. 

Terms — 50 cents a year, in advance. Single copies, 15 cents. 



The Confederate Congress was known as the Provisional and the Permanent. 
The first Provisional Congress met in Montgomery, Alabama, on the 4th of Febru- 
ary, 1861, at the instance of the legislature of Mississippi. It was [composed of 
delegates chosen by conventions of the five gulf states, with Georgia and South 
Carolina. These met as one body and voted by states, each state having one vote. 
Howell Cobb, of Georgia, was elected President, and Johnson J. Hooper, of Ala- 
bama, Secretary. A provisional constitution was adopted. Jefferson Davis, of 
Mississippi, was chosen President, and Alexander H. Stephens, of Georgia, Vice- 


President of the Confederacy, and were duly inaugurated on the 18th day of 

The Texas ordinance of secession was submitted on the 15th, but the delegates 
from that state did not take their seats until the 2nd of March. North Carolina had 
not then seceded, but David L. Swain, M. W. Ransom and John L. Bridgers, hav- 
ing been appointed commissioners by the Legislature, were admitted to seats as 
such, by the congress, on the second day of its session. 

This congress held five sessions — two in Montgomery, and three in Richmond, 
and adjourned sine die, on the 17th of February, 1862. 

In the meantime Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina and Tennessee having 
seceded, and delegates from these states, and Kentucky and Missouri having been 
admitted, with a delegate from the Territory of Arizona (although Kentucky and 
Missouri had not seceded), the whole number of members at the close was about 
one hundred and fifteen. It was an able body, especially during its first session, 
when nearly one half of its members were ex-members of the United States 

The delegates from North Carolina were first admitted July 20th, 1861, at 
Richmond. They consisted of the following very able and experienced gentlemen, 
viz: George W. Davis, W. W. Avery, W. N. H. Smith, Thomas D. McDowell, 
A. W. Venable, John M. Morehead, R. C. Puryear, A. T. Davidson, Burton 
Craige and Thomas Ruffin. 


The first permanent congress convened in Richmond on the 18th day of Feb- 
ruary, 1862, and consisted of two Senators from each of the thirteen states repre- 
sented, and one hundred and six Representatives, and four delegates from the 
Territories. George Davis and William T. Dortch were the Senators from North 
Carolina, and the Representatives were Robert R. Bridgers, Owen R. Keenan, 
Thomas D. McDowell, Thomas S. Ashe, J. R. McLean, William Lander, Burges 
S. Gaither, A. T. Davidson, W. N. H. Smith, and Archibald H. Arrington. 

This Congress held four sessions in Richmond in two years, and enacted most 
of the laws of the Confederacy. It was accused — I will not say justly — of too much 
subserviency to the Executive, and for nearly all of the enactments considered 
oppressive, by the people. It expired, by limitation, on the 18th of February, 1864. 

The second and last Permanent Congress convened in Richmond on the 2nd of 


May, 1864. The changes in this, compared with the preceding congress, were 
remarkable and significant. The new Senators were Richard W. Walker, from 
Alabama; Augustus H. Garland, Arkansas; John W. C. Watson, Mississippi, and 
W. A. Graham, from North Carolina. The changes in the House were so numer- 
ous as, almost, to amount to a new congress. Georgia led in this change, returning 
nine new, out of its ten members. North Carolina came next with seven out of ten. 
Texas four out of six, etc. It was remarkable that but few changes were made in 
the delegations from Kentucky and Missouri. The seven new Representatives from 
North Carolina were James T. Leach, Josiah Turner, Jr., John A. Gilmer, James M. 
Leach, George W. Logan, James G. Ramsay, and Thomas C. Fuller. Of these, 
Gilmer and J. M. Leach had been members of the United States Congress; the oth- 
ers had some legislative experience, with the exception, I believe, of Messrs. Logan 
and Fuller. 

R. M. T. Hunter, of Virginia, was elected President pro tern, of the Senate, 
and Thomas S. Bocock, also of Virginia, was again elected Speaker of the House, 
having occupied that position in the preceding congress. The outlook of the Con- 
federacy, at this time, was gloomy and discouraging. Furious and unrelenting war 
had raged for more than three years. Lincoln had called out eight hundred thou- 
sand men, at a cost of nearly three thousand million dollars, and was preparing to 
call for as many more men, at even a greater outlay of money. The Mississipp 1 
river was in his possession from mouth to source — thus cutting the Confederacy in 
twain. The whole Atlantic and Gulf coast, with the exception of the ports of Charles- 
ton, Savannah and Mobile, which were closely blockaded, were in the possession of 
the enemy. Albert Sydney Johnston and " Stonewall " Jackson had fallen — the one 
in the hour of defeat, the other in the hour of victory, while hundreds of other lead- 
ers, the pride and hope of the country, with thousands of the rank and file of the 
army, had fallen on bloody fields of strife. The gallant Lee had retired from Mary- 
land and Pennsylvania after the terrible conflicts of Antietam and Gettysburg. Grant 
with more than a hundred thousand veterans was entering the Wilderness, to be 
held at bay by Lee with less than half that number; and Sherman with an army nearly 
equal to Grant's was bearing down upon Johnston, who stood at Dalton with fifty. 
five thousand to dispute hfs "march to the sea." __— — 

But let us return to the action of Congress. ; The three subjects which mainly 
attracted the attention of that body were, the support and recruiting of the army; 


the suspension of the Writ of Habeas Corpus, and negotiations for peace. The 
President, backed by a majority in Congress, sought to allay rising discontent, and 
avert impending evils by adding to the exactions of existing laws, heavier imposi- 
tions, and more rigorous executions. But tythe and impressment laws could not be 
duplicated and enforced upon an exhausted people, who demanded their repeal 
rather than enforcement. Neither could recruits for the army be obtained, for 
nearly the whole of the white male population, from seventeen to sixty years of age, 
was already subject to call under existing laws. 

The alternative, in the opinion of many was subjugation or the arming of the 
slaves. The delegation from North Carolina was opposed to the latter, without 
being in favor of the former. On the 27th of January, 1865, the House having under 
consideration the Senate bill for the employment of free negroes and slaves on forti- 
fications and in hospitals, Mr. Ramsay moved as a proviso "that said slaves shall 
not be armed or used as soldiers." Mr. Miles supported the proviso, but in the 
midst of his speech the House went into secret session. On the 29th the proviso 
was voted down and the bill passed. Mr. Barksdale's bill for the employment of 
negro troops passed the House on the 10th of February, but was rejected in the 
Senate by a tie vote — Wigfall and Maxwell expressing' unqualified opposition, Gra- 
ham, Orr and Hunter speaking against it, but the latter gentleman voting for it, 
under instructions from the legislature of his state. On the 9th of March the House 
agreed to an amendment by the Senate to a bill arming the slaves, by a vote of 40 
to 26, and the bill became a law. 


In November, 1864, the President sent a message to congress, in secret ses- 
sion, urging the suspension of the writ of Habeas Corpus, alleging the existence of 
a secret treasonable conspiracy, originated by the enemy, called Heroes of America, 
as prevalent in southwestern Virginia, part of east Tennessee, and the bordering 
counties of North Carolina, and as having, even, penetrati/ig into the army. The 
message was referred to the judiciary committee, which reported the indentical bill 
passed on the preceding 15th of February, but which had expired in August, and 
recommended its re-enactment. Russell and Rieves of Virginia and others spoke 
ably in advocacy, while Baldwin, Miles, and others spoke against it with equal 
power. The whole delegation from North Carolina opposed its passage. As a por- 


tion of the latter state was implicated, Mr. Ramsay felt called upon to say, that so 
far as the Heroes of America were concerned there was neither secrecy nor danger. 
Every thing connected with the order had been revealed and published in his State 
months ago, and while the writ was suspended. The President had made no arrests 
then, although called upon to do so. Why did he wish to be clothed with the 
power now? "This looks so inconsistent," said he, "as to justify a suspicion that 
the existence of this order is made a pretext for the acquisition of power to be used 
for other purposes." 

The bill passed the House by a vote of 37 to 32, but was killed in the Senate 
fay a vote of 8 to G. On the 13th of March the President sent a second message 
urging the suspension of the writ, but Congress arid the President had divergent 
views on this subject, and the former failed to carry out the views of the latter on 
this important subject. 


Many members of this Congress, especially the new members, had found it nec- 
essary to promise their constituents to make efforts to obtain negotiations for peace. 
And anxious eyes were turned toward Congress, in the hope that relief might be 
obtained from the burdens of war, otherwise than through fields of strife and blood. 
Repeated peace propositions had been made in the Federal Congress. These had uni- 
formly failed, but had been sustained by a respectable minority. On the 14th of 
December, '63, Fernando Wood introduced a resolution in the House, requesting Mr. 
Lincoln to appoint commissioners to treat with the authorities at Richmond to restore 
this Union " upon terms of equity, fraternity and equality, under the Constitution." 
Fifty-nine, out of one hundred and fifty-seven, votes were cast in favor of this prop- 
osition. Sixteen days after this, Governor Vance wrote to Mr. Davis that the recent 
action of the Federal House, though meaning but little, had greatly excited the 
public hope that the Northern mind was looking towards peace — that it seemed to 
him that " we might with propriety constantly tender negotiations." 

The reply of the President was: 

" This struggle must continue until the enemy is beaten out of his vain confi- 
dence of our subjugation." 

I cannot stop here to enumerate all the sources of discontent among the peo- 
ple, nor the grounds of hope of those who looked for peace. I can only allude to 
the fact of the repreesentation in Congress from Kentucky, Missouri and parts of 


Virginia, Louisiana and Tennessee, by those who had no constituency that could be 
reached by Confederate legislation — those states and parts of states, either never 
having left the Union, or having returned after having left; and to the additional 
fact that there was a growing distrust, as we shall see as we proceed, of the Presi- 
dent himself and his Cabinet in certain quarters. Suffice it to say just here, that 
the attitude of the President, backed as he was by a majority in the Senate and two- 
thirds in the House, effectually paralyzed all efforts at negotiations for peace, except 
upon the unattainable basis of the complete independence of the Confederacy. Thus- 
it was that when Mr. J. T. Leach at one time and Mr. Turner at another, in com- 
pliance with promises made to their constituents, introduced resolutions looking 
towards peace, the House immediately went into secret session, from which the res- 
olutions never emerged. And thus it was throughout. 

In his message November 7, '64, the President took a hopeful and sanguine 
view of the situation. "Atlanta," said he, "had fallen, but would be of no ulti- 
mate advantage to the enemy, and had we been compelled to evacuate Richmond 
the Confederacy would remain as defiant as ever. No military success of the enemy 
can accomplish the destruction of the Confederacy." 

But the military situation grew more alarming and critical, and the determina- 
tion of the people for negotiations for a secession of hostilities and for peace, in some 
form or other, grew stronger instead of weaker. The President and his Cabinet 
became the objects of attack. Mr. Seddon retired as Secretary of War and General 
Breckenridge succeeded him. Governor Brown, of -Georgia, in a message to the 
Legislature of that state, asserted that " our government was now a military despot- 
ism, drifting into anarchy, and, if the present policy is persisted in, must terminate in 
reconstruction, with or without subjugation." And, after recommending the taking 
from the President his power as commander-in-chief, and the calling of a convention 
to amend the Constitution, he uttered these thrilling words, " The night is dark, the 
tempest howls, the ship is lashed with turbulent waves, the helmsman is steering to 
the whirlpool, our remonstrances are unheeded, and we must restrain him, or the 
crew must sink together, buried in irretrievable ruin." 

But, before this philippic had been delivered, Congress had passed the act creat- 
ing the office of commander-in-chief of all the armies of the Confederacy, and General 
Lee had been appointed to that exalted position. 

It is due to the President to state that he had made to two or more unavailing 


■efforts at negotiations — just how far he authorized the Niagara conference in July 
""64, and the visit of the Blairs to Richmond in January, '65, I fail to know; but on 
the 28th of the latter month he authorized Messrs. Stephens, Hunter and Campbell 
to hold a peace conference in Hampton Roads with Mr. Lincoln and Secretary Sew- 
ard. The conference failed of peaceful results, because our commissioners were not 
authorized to make peace on any other terms than the recognition of the indepen- 
dence of the Confederacy. 

Now came the last grand effort to "fire the Southern heart" anew. On the 
"9th of February an immense mass meeting was held in the African church in Rich- 
mond, presided over by Mr. Hunter. Speeches were made by the President, Mr. 
Benjamin, Mr. Gilmer and others, which were enthusiastically applauded, and reso- 
lutions were passed mutually pledging life, fortune and sacred honor to maintain 
liberty and independence. This was followed by many similar meetings throughout 
the country. But they were the flickerings, only, of the expiring lamp. 

And, now, many brave and true men seeing that the resources of the Confeder- 
acy were exhausted and that the united action of the states had failed to secure a 
cessation of hostilities, began seriously to contemplate and propose separate state 
action. But to this — -the very cornerstone of the Confederacy — the President was 
as resolutely opposed, as he was to compromise of any kind, because it involved 

And here, at the risk of being prolix, I wish to show the position of Governor 
Graham, as well as that of the President, on this vital subject. Senator Oldham, of 
Texas, in an article in De Bow ' s Review for October, 1869, speaks as follows: 

"A few days after the Hampton Roads' conference a committee, consisting of 
Messrs. Orr, Graham and Johnston, was appointed, by the Senate, to confer with 
the President and ascertain what he proposed to do under the existing condition of 
affairs. In a few days they made a verbal report, through Mr. Graham. Among 
other things they stated that they had inquired of the President his views and opin- 
ions with regard to proposing to the United States to negotiate for peace upon the 
basis of the Confederacy returning to the Union, and that the President had answered 
J that he had no power to negotiate a treaty upon such a basis; * * * that the 
states alone, each acting for itself, in its sovereign capacity, could make such a 
treaty. ' 

' ' Mr. Graham said he gave notice that in a few days he would introduce a res- 


olution in favor of opening negotiations with the United States upon the basis of a 
return to the Union by the states of the Confederacy. * * * The notice was 
received in svch a manner that he never offered his resolution." 

On the 13th of March — just five days before Congress adjourned — the Presi- 
dent sent in a message, stating that the enemy was jubilant, our people greatly dis- 
couraged and Richmond in greater danger than at any time before during the war; 
that the people were looking to Congress for relief, but that the measures passed for 
recruiting the army were inadequate. And he recommended more vigorous impress- 
ments for supplies, the abolition of all exemptions from military duty, the suspen- 
sion of the writ of habeas corpus and the impressment of all the gold and silver coir* 
of the country if it could not be borrowed. 

To this message Congress replied, through a committee, that all the measures 
recommended by the President to promote the efficiency of the army have been* 
adopted, except the entire repeal of class exemptions and some measures suggested 
by him, such as the creation of the office of general-in-chief, were originated and 
passed by Congress with a view to the restoration of public confidence by the ener- 
getic administration of military affairs. * * * Congress does not concur in the 
opinion of the President that the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas 
corpus is indispensable to the successful conduct of the war. 

On the 18th of March, 1865, Congress met for the last time. Its sessions were 
in secret. A bill amending the impressment laws was passed; also a bill authoriz- 
ing the impressment of three million dollars in coin, if it could not be borrowed; and 
in case of a future loan, the levying of a tax of twenty-five per cent, on all the gold 
and silver coin, bullion and foreign exchange, in the Confederacy, pledging the cot- 
ton and tobacco of the government for payment. 

Mr. Watson, on behalf of the joint committee appointed to wait on the Presi- 
dent and inform him of the readiness of Congress to adjourn, reported that the com- 
mittee had discharged that duty and that the President had stated that he had no> 
further communication to make; that in his recent message he had fully explained 
his views as to the legislation needed by the country; * * * but to the full 
extent of his power and the resources placed at his disposal all might feel assured of 
his purpose, faithfully to protect and defend the country. 

Congress then adjourned to meet in the following October. But it was to meet 
no more. In sixteen days Richmond was evacuated — the Confederate stores and 



warehouses were set on fire, against the protest of the citizens, by our retreating 
forces; the legislature of Virginia was on its way to another seat for its deliberations, 
and the President, with a portion of his Cabinet and all the coin of the government, 
was hastening toward the savannas of the South. Seven days more and Lee had laid 
down his sword at Appomattox and the end had come, not alone of Congress, but 
of the Confederacy. 

The bravest now saw what the wisest had long foreseen — an end of strife and 
bloodshed, for which the friends of peace had longed and prayed. 

Salisbury, N. C, March 22, 1900. 


The key of yesterday 

I threw away 

And now too late 

Before to-morrow's close-locked gate 

Helpless I stand — in vain to pray! 

In vain to sorrow i 

Only the key of yesterday 

Unlocks tc-morrdw. 





The dingy little blacksmith shop stands at the foot of the hill behind the village 
graveyard, its only avenue of approach being the narrow road that winds down the 
hill to the left of the old rock wall over which the tall tombstones stare through the 
long days and nights. A little distance from the shop may be seen the home of the 
blacksmith. Here the usual order of things seems to be reversed. The vegetable 
garden instead of being in the rear is just in front of the house. In fact, the corn 
patch extends to the very doorstep, while the pumpkin vines that twine about the 
cornstalks climb up over the porch and facing of the door and hang a big yellow 
pumpkin on the door knob. The house can scarcely be seen from the front, it is 
such an insignificant thing compared with the corn and the pumpkins. In the back 
yard smutty pots and kettles, dingy feather beds and pillows, with various other 
household furnishings, are displayed as if for sale. The shop is smutty and dingy — 
all blacksmith shops are; but the home, if such it may be called, is smuttier and 
dingier and infinitely more dreary. 

On a gusty November night, when the wind moans in the trees like lost souls, 
and grewsome shadows from the forge fire flit around the entrance of the shop, the 
smith delights to tell ghost tales to the little boys who steal away from their mammas 
after tea. He is a tall, broad-shouldered half-breed, or "yaller nigger," with clean- 
cut features and keen black eyes; on the whole, somewhat like an Indian. To-night 
he has only one little boy to listen to his tales, and while he talks he sharpens the 
little boy's knife. He finishes the knife with the story and the two gaze at the fire. 

" Well, Uncle Zack," says the little boy, " if you'd go to sleep like other folks 
I don't believe the hanks would pester you. Mamma says the' aint no such things, 

" Lord, chile, you ain't got no sense in yo' head. Sposin' you had the heart 
disease, what guv yer the pulsions every time yer laid down, then, howd'd yer keep 
from seein' de hants ? ' ' 

" Now, Uncle Zack, you know you haven't got the heart disease," says the lit- 
tle boy. 





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